Vilcabamba, Ecuador: Canadian Tourist Viciously Attacked By Knife Wielding Tourist from Ireland

Posted on January 5, 2018 • Filed under: Crime, Ecuador, Ecuador Emergency


This first hand account of an alleged brutal attack on a tourist from Canada by another tourist from Northern Ireland is shared in the victims own words.

“I am Sheryl MacDonald, a Canadian female tourist. I have been in Vilcabamba since mid November.
On Friday December 22, 2017 at approximately 12:10 pm, I was viciously attacked with a 6-inch (15 cm) hooked switchblade in a local guest house by a male tourist from Northern Ireland, staying in the same place.

The attacker appears to have been delusional and in a
psychotic break from reality during this crime. My education is in police studies, psychology and
deviant behavior. I worked for a law enforcement agency for 22 years. I am also an addictions
counsellor and have experience working with many clients with addictions and concurrent
mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety and schizophrenia.

Excessive use of marijuana is highly correlated to the onset of schizophrenia.
The perpetrator ALWYN PETER MILLEN is Caucasion, around 40 years old with sandy colored
thinning hair brushed back over the top. The back of his hair flips out and covers his neck. He was clean-shaven at the time. He is around 5 feet 6 inches tall (168 cm) and weighs
approximately 150 pounds (68 kg). Millen has blue or light colored eyes. He presents as very
friendly, chatty and personable. He speaks with an Irish accent and is quite fluent in Spanish.
He has a really cute tiny 8 week old black puppy with white paws called Snoopy.
Millen’s first stay at the guest house near the end of November was only a few days. It was
uneventful except for the very dark satanic recordings he listened to on another guest’s
computer with his Bible next to him. Millen was pleasant to me and willingly shared with me
some of his troubled life story on the day he arrived at the guest house. Although he was not
longer addicted to other drugs, he had been using marijuana excessively and was trying to
wean from that.

Over the course of Millen’s second stay at the guest house the week before Christmas, there
was evidence that he may be troubled. He began more frequently making references to guests
about satan, the antichrist, the beast, 666 and killing.
Other guests and I noticed that Millen did not seem to have any food for himself or the little
puppy someone had just given him. The other guests offered him their eggs and he also ate my
eggs. In addition, I offered Millen some supper one night after noticing he had not eaten. He
accepted taking it into his room. However the next morning, when the guest that had offered
Millen some eggs was making coffee, Millen accused that guest and me of poisoning him and
his dog and stated that he would kill us. The guest reported the matter and Millen was going to
be asked to leave the guest house. When I was told of the threat, I stated that I thought Millen
was having a psychotic episode.

Later that day around noon when I was preparing to leave Vilcabamba for Christmas, Millen put
the puppy in his room and sat calmly with his knife on the couch waiting for me to be alone in
the house. It was obvious the attack was pre-meditated. I came downstairs to pack my food.
Millen spoke calmly to me asking if I was leaving. I confirmed this and had my back to him when
he severely slashed my left arm twice down into the muscle tissue just missing the braccheal
artery. The first cut is across the bicep and the second one across the tricep. The knife was so
sharp I did not realize until after the second cut that I had been slashed. Millen then stepped
back around the couch and kept pointing the knife at me. I was screaming to get attention and
trying to figure out how to escape. Millen told me he was going to kill me as he pointed the knife
at me and tried to get closer. He had a crazed look in his eyes like someone who is having a
psychotic episode. I had seen that look before when dealing with addicts who had paranoid

As people heard my screaming and rushed into the house, I yelled that Millen had a switchblade
and that he had slashed my arm. I then ran out of the house from another exit and was assisted
by others with a tourniquet and taken to hospital.
Following the attack, Millen sat quietly in the living room of the guest house and began to read a
book as if nothing had happened. He stated to the others minding him that I had poisoned him
so I deserved it. Millen ate breakfast with all of us every day and never showed signs of being ill
from anyone’s food.

Despite the severity of the offence, Millen was released from jail on December 23. He was
spotted back in Vilcabamba after that on numerous occasions with his puppy Snoopy. The
puppy makes it more attractive for people to approach him. It is believed that Millen is currently
living in Vilcabamba and has likely retrieved his switchblade, which the police never found.

When people are in a psychotic break from reality, they think their situation is VERY real and
will act out to protect themselves from their perceived danger. There is no convincing them
otherwise or that their dangerous situation is not real. In fact that escalates their paranoia.
Psychotic individuals are not usually aware that they need help.


A call to 911 was placed for the police to attend the location. They were told of the gravity of the
situation. Yet the police had not left the police station by the time my taxi went by there on the
way to the hospital. At that time, the police were told again of the serious situation and asked to
go immediately. Their response time from the first call was around 45 minutes, which is
completely unacceptable.
Despite having Spanish speaking persons with me at all times and asking a multitude of times
to provide my statement (denuncia), I was never allowed to give my statement to the police at
the hospital, at the Vilcabamba police station or later that day in Loja at the fiscalia and the two
other places I was sent to. The next day prior to the hearing (audiencia), I again asked to give
my statement at the fiscalia because I had been told it needed to be done within 24 hours of the
offence in order to keep my attacker in jail. I was denied and told it was not necessary. I had
never been allowed to provide a statement to anyone until December 29.

The statement I provided on December 29 at a fiscalia in another location was exactly the first
section of the security alert translated precisely by an Ecuadorian friend. The man typing my
denuncia made several serious errors in it and added information that was never said. He
refused to correct any of the errors despite several requests. I was told to sign the denuncia or
leave the fiscalia. So I signed it with a note above my signature that there were many
inaccuracies in the denuncia. The man told me the fiscalia would call me on Tuesday January 2,

In addition to having my rights denied to give a statement for a week, I was also denied the right
to have a copy of my hospital report from the police, the court docket used at the Loja fiscalia
and any police reports.

My case should never have been sent to the fiscalia. A contact in the upper echelons of the
Ecuadorian government told me I should have been sent to the Defensoría pública. From what I
understand, the fiscalia is for private civil matters. In cases of personal injury in a private matter,
there is no jail time if the injuries are expected to heal within 30 days. The person appointed to
represent me (the victim’s case) was determined not to have jurisdiction because the court
appointed doctor who examined my stitched up arm prior to the hearing stated it would heal in
less than 30 days, even though I had internal and external stitches in both slashes. It is now just
over one week after the attack and I still cannot stretch out my arm or put any pressure on it.
Basically the judge at the Loja fiscalia dismissed the case but issued a restraining order (boleta
de auxilio y protección). Individuals in a psychotic state are not concerned with restraining
orders. This method of protection is not effective in this case even if the restraining order had
been written without errors and contained all the conditions dictated by the judge. That was not
the case however, which magnified the uselessness of the restraining order.
Millen would likely still be incarcerated and the public not at risk had my case been handled
properly and had I been allowed to provide my statement right away. It is not known why the
proper process was not followed for what at minimum is a serious physical assault with a
weapon and at maximum is an attempted murder.

I feel like the perpetrator was treated as a victim and I was treated like an accused. He gets out
of jail and gets all his rights met. Conversely I get all my rights denied and am left with two
massive scars across my arm as a constant memory every time I look in the mirror. If I return to
Vilcabamba, I risk being murdered by Millen.

I loved Vilcabamba and was actually considering it as a potential place for me to settle in a
couple of years. However that has changed now that I am aware of the amount of past and
present violent crime in the area and the inability of the authorities and government to respond
in such a way that keeps the community at large secure.
Not only does this make it unattractive for me to return but for other tourists as well. Taxi drivers
and local businesses are suffering these days due to a significant downturn in tourism. Look at
all the expats that have moved away too. The biggest reason they are gone is violent crime and
because of the preference of the authorities to live in denial by hiding these crimes for tourism
purposes. This approach is having the opposite effect. It is pushing people away when they
realize Vilcabamba is not the peaceful loving healing place it purports to be. With two attempted
murders in just over two weeks, you would think that the Ministeros de Turismo and Interior
would be implementing and enforcing safe, just and fair legal processes that are clear and
ensure the proper training of the police, the fiscalia and public defendor staff on how deal with
the victims and perpetrators of violent crimes. But they are not.

I am very sad to say goodbye this way. Thank you to all those in the community (locals and
expats) who befriended me during my stay and who helped me get through this terrifying attack.

I pray that ALWYN PETER MILLEN gets the help he needs before he attacks or murders
someone else while in a delusional psychotic state. He really should have been deported back
to Northern Ireland into the hands of the authorities so that he can get help.

Sheryl MacDonald



5th Janurary
“Good morning Ms. MacDonald,

I received an email from Gabriela Suarez, Tourist Welfare Director of the (Ecuadorian) Ministry of Tourism, she confirmed that she has followed up the case with the prosecutor’s office in Loja and the aggressor has been detained for legal proceeding. The people from the Zonal Coordination of the Ministry of Tourism will continue to follow up the case in order that this case.


Raquel Bahamonde”

Consular Officer/Agente Consulaire
Embassy of Canada/Ambassade du Canada
Telephone/Téléphone:(5932)245-5499 ext 3653340
Facsimile/Telecopieur: (5932)227-7672
Av. Amazonas N37-29 y Unión Nacional de Periodistas, Edificio Eurocenter, 3 er piso.
Quito, Ecuador

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